Interview With T Damien Anyasi from @HHL1m !


HipHop is every­where and we have all been uplif­ted by dif­fer­ent ele­ments of this cul­ture wheth­er we know it or not. If you’ve ever gasped at a break­dance per­form­ance, sung along to ‘Baby Got Back’ or been moved by the polit­ic­al mes­sages in Banksy’s graf­fiti pieces, you have giv­en energy to Hiphop’s cul­ture and rein­forced that Hiphop lives in all of us.The true eth­os of HipHop as stated by the God­fath­er of this cul­ture, Afrika Bam­baataa, is: Peace, Love, Unity and Hav­ing Fun. The HipHop Lives brand is a cel­eb­ra­tion of this eth­os and our goal is to pos­it­ively change 1 mil­lion minds about Hiphop’s cul­ture. The term is ‘Hiphop Lives – 1 Mil­lion Minds’ or HHL1m for short

T Dami­en Any­asi is a Lon­don-based dan­cer with 14 years pro­fes­sion­al exper­i­ence. Spe­cial­ising in Hiphop and funk­style dances, he was on the cho­reo­graph­ic team for the 2012 Lon­don Olympics open­ing cere­mony and was voted UK Dance Teach­er of the Year 2014 by the read­ers of Dance Today magazine.
Through the HHL1m (‘Hip hop lives in 1 mil­lion minds’) label, he is seek­ing to change some pub­lic per­cep­tions about Hiphop cul­ture through uplift­ing mes­sages, images and events. His dance edu­ca­tion com­pany, B‑Better, has been teach­ing people of all ages Hiphop and funk­style dances for over 10 years and con­tin­ues to grow in pres­ence in the UK.

Q. What first got you inter­ested in dance?

I kind of got into dance by acci­dent, in some ways! I used to study at the Lon­don Music School as a vocal­ist and when I gradu­ated I wanted to become more of an all-round per­former, so I joined a dance group in Lad­broke Grove and things evolved from there.

Q. Any­one in par­tic­u­lar that inspired you?

My biggest inspir­a­tion when I star­ted out was prob­ably my friend, Dar­ren. We were work­ing togeth­er and he intro­duced me to the dance group. See­ing him prac­tice on the shop floor, I remem­ber think­ing that he was one of the most nat­ur­al movers I’d ever seen. I’ve always had per­son­al issues with how I move so there’s a great appre­ci­ation for those who do so effort­lessly.

Q. Did you train in oth­er styles of dance as well as hip-hop?

When I first star­ted dance I had an interest in breakin’, and actu­ally pur­sued it quite heav­ily — the phys­ic­al­ity really spoke to me. Now I also list waack­ing and bachata as two oth­er styles I enjoy.

Q. What do you think makes hip-hop dan­cing so spe­cial and sets it apart from oth­er styles?

Hip-hop dance, at it’s root, is social, and the under­ly­ing groove that drives the dance is like no oth­er. It’s con­stant evol­u­tion is driv­en by changes in music and isol­a­tions and ‘hits’ have become part-and-par­cel of the mod­ern style. The beats drive the motion!

Q. What was it like being on the cho­reo­graph­ic team for the Lon­don 2012 open­ing cere­mony?

Being involved in the cre­at­ive pro­cess of the Olympics was unlike any oth­er exper­i­ence I’ve had, and may not be matched for a very long time. I learned so much about myself dur­ing the pro­cess, I’ve nev­er been the same since. It was through this exper­i­ence that I actu­ally thought, “Bro, you’ve become a new per­son”. Learn­ing to Lindy Hop, roller skate, tram­po­line, tap AND man­age hun­dreds of volun­teers at a time were just some of the life-enhan­cing exper­i­ences I had, but being called upon to share my spe­cial­isms was truly hum­bling and I am deeply, deeply thank­ful for that chapter in my life. We just cel­eb­rated our 3 year anniversary.

Q. Is there any­one who you’d really love to cho­reo­graph for?

I just cre­ated a per­form­ance group named Mani­fest Nation, so I’d say right now it’s them I’d like to cho­reo­graph for the most. Our young­est dan­cer is 7 years old, and I’m enjoy­ing the pro­cess of devel­op­ing a range of dif­fer­ent tal­ents. Out­side of my group, I’d like to do a pro­ject with Sug­ar Rae from Ger­many and Alex The Cage from Bel­gi­um.

Q. What have been the oth­er high­lights of your career so far?

Being invited to teach in Azerbaijan a few years ago and get­ting to spend my birth­day there was very mem­or­able. I got bit­ten by a mon­key on that day, so that was quite unique. Last year I was voted UK Dance Teach­er of the Year in a par­tic­u­lar pub­lic­a­tion and that was a real moment — I’ve still got so much to learn in that field. Also, win­ning my first battle — it was a small tri­umph in the grand scheme of things, but I really over­came some stuff to get to that point. I still struggle with that mind­set some­times.

Q. Tell us about HHL1M… What was the inspir­a­tion behind the pro­ject?

‘Hip Hop Lives in 1 mil­lion Minds’, is a term that came about when I con­sidered that ele­ments of HipHop cul­ture are every­where in our day-to-day lives, but many of us are either unaware or res­ist­ant to accept­ance! I cre­ated the streetwear brand in the sum­mer of 2014 when an oppor­tun­ity arose to put my mes­sage in print, and have nev­er looked back.

Through the mes­sage in the cloth­ing and the work I do with my HipHop edu­ca­tion com­pany, B‑Better, I want to open or change 1 mil­lion minds about HipHop cul­ture. Someone asked me once, “How will you meas­ure it?” and my response was, “It will be obvi­ous when the time comes”. I have meth­ods!


Q. Where do you plan on tak­ing this in the future?
I’ve always been con­scious of trends in fash­ion since adoles­cence so I want to cre­ate gar­ments people will want to wear as much for their com­fort, fit and look as any mes­sage or image that is put on them. I’m always listen­ing to the pub­lic to find out what they want — it’s import­ant when grow­ing a busi­ness. My next step with regards to design is to start using pic­tures which say ‘Hip Hop Lives’ without actu­ally hav­ing to use words — it’s an excit­ing pro­cess!

The goal is to have a glob­ally recog­nised brand and to cre­ate events and pro­grams to cel­eb­rate HipHop cul­ture whilst sup­port­ing those who live this cul­ture but don’t get their voices heard. Recently there was a doc­u­ment­ary called ‘Shake the Dust’ pro­duced by Nas (yes, THAT Nas), that revealed how bboy­ing is a dance form that has real fol­low­ing in places as far afield as Colom­bia and Yemen. THAT’S the kind of pro­ject I want to cre­ate. I’d want the loc­al people to be part of the cre­ation pro­cess, not just char­ac­ters in the pro­ject. I’d like to believe that we can reach 1 mil­lion minds with pro­jects like this.

Check out the selec­tion of Tees and find out more about HHL 1M By vis­it­ing

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Micky Roots

Micky Roots

Micky roots is one of the edit­ors of I am hip hop magazine, a pure hip hop head and visu­al artist he brings his strong know­ledge of hip hop, social con­scious­ness & polit­ic­al con­cern to No Bounds.

About Micky Roots

Micky Roots
Micky roots is one of the editors of I am hip hop magazine, a pure hip hop head and visual artist he brings his strong knowledge of hip hop, social consciousness & political concern to No Bounds.

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